Sociology of Religion

The study of religion has been an integral part of sociology since the discipline emerged in the 1800s.  Sociologists are interested in the social foundations of religion.  We examine social factors affecting individuals' beliefs and practices, the social conditions under which religious groups arise, persist, and change over time, and the social circumstances shaping and reshaping religious norms and values in society.  Sociologists also investigate the social impact of personal spirituality and religiosity, religious groups' policies and practices, and the religious components of culture.

Reflecting sociology's long-standing interest in religion, Purdue's Department of Sociology has developed one of the nation's premier programs in the sociology of religion.  The program pursues excellence and national prominence in three areas: discovery, learning, and engagement.

Discovery.  Faculty and students participate in cutting-edge research on the social nature of religion and share their findings with other researchers by means of books, articles in professional journals, and presentations at professional meetings.  The faculty has attracted several million dollars in extra-mural funding for its research and has received numerous awards for its books and journal articles.

Learning.  Another goal is to foster students' interest in and knowledge of the social nature of religion.  To this end, the faculty has created a curriculum consisting of five sociology of religion courses for graduate and undergraduate students. The faculty also has established a record of excellence in teaching and mentoring students outside of the classroom.

Engagement.  The faculty seeks to share its research and teaching skills with the public at large and religious leaders in particular.  Faculty and students pursue this goal through speaking engagements, radio and television interviews, newspaper columns, and magazine articles.  They also participate personally in the formulation of policies and programs, contributing to the well-being of community and religious organizations.

If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please contact Professor Fenggang Yang (fyang@purdue.edu, telephone: 765-494-2641) or Professor Daniel Olson (dolson@purdue.edu